February 25, 2010 / 12:28 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Malaysia's Maxis 2009 profit misses estimate

* Q4 net profit 503 mln rgt vs 668 mln rgt Nomura estimate

* FY net profit 1.6 bln rgt vs 2.4 bln rgt consensus estimate

* Says optimistic about Malaysian telecoms market

* Shares end up 0.6 pct at 5.52 ringgit ahead of results

(adds details, quotes and background)

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s leading mobile phone service provider Maxis Berhad (MXSC.KL) reported lower quarterly profits on Thursday, hit by higher finance charges and expenses related to its listing last November.

Maxis, which debuted on the stock exchange as Southeast Asia’s biggest initial public offering last year, said it is optimistic about growth in the telecommunications market after adding 556,000 new subscriptions in the fourth quarter.

“Despite the entry of a number of new players in the market, and maintaining a large subscription base, the company recorded another year of over 50 percent EBITDA margin,” said Sandip Das, Maxis’ chief executive officer. Maxis reported October-December net profit of 503 million ringgit ($147.8 million) against 615 million ringgit in the third quarter.

Analysts generally do not provide quarterly earnings forecasts for Malaysian companies, but Nomura put its estimate for Maxis’ fourth-quarter net profit at 668 million ringgit.

The company made a net profit of 1.6 billion ringgit for the full year, missing the 2.4 billion ringgit consensus estimate of 19 analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Maxis is valued at 41.2 billion ringgit ($12.1 billion), making it the biggest mobile provider by market capitalisation in Malaysia, the second most developed mobile market in Southeast Asia after Singapore.

It competes with smaller rivals like Axiata (AXIA.KL) and DiGi (DSOM.KL) and controls 40 percent of the local mobile phone market.

Axiata, Malaysia’s No.2 mobile telecoms provider, posted better-than-expected 2009 net profit on Wednesday but said competition was heating up in its key markets. [nSGE61M079]

Eleven out of 21 analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S have “hold” ratings on Maxis, with six calling it a “buy” or “strong buy”, two rating it a “sell” and two others rating it an “underperform”.

Shares of Maxis were up 3 percent so far this year, outperforming the 0.3 percent gain in the broader market index .

($1=3.403 Malaysian Ringgit)

(Reporting by Julie Goh; Editing by Soo Ai Peng)

((julie.goh@thomsonreuters.com; +603 2333 8036; Reuters Messaging: julie.goh.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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